Hazardous wastes, hazardous materials and environmental health inequity

Soliman, M.R.; Derosa, C.T.; Mielke, H.W.; Bota, K.

Toxicology and Industrial Health 9(5): 901-912


ISSN/ISBN: 0748-2337
PMID: 8184448
DOI: 10.1177/074823379300900511
Accession: 008757334

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This paper reviews issues associated with the equity of locating hazardous waste sites and hazardous materials. Reports and case studies indicate that hazardous waste sites and the locations of hazardous materials are disproportionately situated near minority communities, especially African-American communities. This inequitable placement of hazardous waste sites is of concern, since exposure to toxic waste can adversely affect human health. Proximity to these sites may place these minority communities at higher risk of developing cancers and respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases, and of incurring increased levels of individual and family stress. The health of persons in minority communities near hazardous waste sites is further compromised by their lack of access to adequate health care. The potential health risks borne by racial and ethnic minorities and by low income communities as a consequence of exposure to toxic waste constitutes environmental inequity. In order to decrease the burden of these risks, we recommend developing environmental policies that address environmental inequity; conducting detailed demographic and health studies that assess the impact of exposure to toxic waste on minority populations; and devising educational programs to sensitize professional service providers and prevent exposure by community residents. This paper identifies research needs and opportunities.